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Pines gives up the ghost on Casper

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) After months of speculation, public debate and untold hundreds of trees sacrificed for print media coverage, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted last Friday to oust Billy Casper Golf and hire Landscapes Unlimited of Lincoln, Neb. to manage the community golf course. The measure passed 4-3 during a closed session with Directors Sharyn O’Hare, Bill Cordwell and Tom Terry dissenting. General Manager Bob Thompson and the golf workgroup, which incudes Terry, board Treasurer Jack Collins and Board President Dave Stevens, will represent the association in drafting a new contract for Landscapes. The meeting got off to a tense start when resident Joe Reynolds, during public comments, asked whether the meeting could legally go into closed session. Stevens said the purpose of the closed session was, “a continuation of contract negotiations that have been ongoing between bidders.” “We have been … going through their proposals,...
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Management not only thing changing at OP golf course

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) Ocean Pines appears to be changing more than management companies at the community golf course after selecting Landscapes Unlimited to replace Billy Casper Golf. Previously, Casper provided monthly financial and operational reports to the general manager. Under the new agreement with Landscape Unlimited, that will apparently change, as management could report directly to the seven-member board of directors. Casper had been showing signs of improvement after having a disastrous first year, partially because nine of the 18 holes were shut down by construction. According to the Jan. 23 general manager’s report, Casper posted a $146,107 year-to-date improvement over fiscal year 2014. Some have speculated that the uncertainly surrounding management may negatively affected early-season bookings at the course. One possible indication of that can be found in the fiscal year 2016 budget draft, which initially showed a $14,124 projected loss for the course. The board ...
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Commissioners sign off on Berlin annexation plan

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) Forgoing, for now, a commercial component that would have been constructed on the north side of Route 50 and Seahawk Lane and instead focusing on the 90-plus acres on the south side, the Worcester County Commissioners last Thursday approved the Town of Berlin’s annexation plan that will bring about the eventual construction of some 750 townhomes on the edge of town. There were two problems with the proposed annexation: a zoning change from agricultural to residential, and complaints of the Berlin Fire Company. Dated the day of the make-up meeting of the county commissioners because of the snow and not included in the commissioners’ packets, the fire company’s letter criticizes town officials for not meeting with the fire company before seeking the county’s approval. “We have been aware via the public media, monitoring of meeting minutes, and review of Mr. [Ed] Tudor’s memorandum and materials to the commissioner’s for today&#...
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Forum gives public first look at FY 2016 budget

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson presented the latest draft of the proposed fiscal year 2016 budget during a public meeting on Saturday, Feb. 21. The $12.8 million draft includes an operating budget of $10.6 million, as well as $2.1 million in capital funding from reserves. Thompson said the goal of the meeting was to provide the membership with an overview of what went into building the budget, along with highlighting key components. Drafting the budget began in September with staff meetings, when Thompson asked department heads for a list of “needs, wants and desires,” and used capital project worksheets to review capital requests. In October Thompson began reviewing formal requests from department heads, followed by sit-down meetings with both parties and controller Art Carmine in November when requests were scrutinized against previous-year budgets.   The budget began to take shape in December. “At that point, wha...
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Public portion of strategic planning wraps

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By:

(Feb. 26, 2015) With the fourth and final meeting Saturday, Feb. 21, Berlin wrapped the public input phase of strategic planning sessions intended to map out town projects for the next three-to-five years. Next, the process moves to town hall for a pair of meetings on Wednesday, March 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Thursday, March 12 for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Town Administrator Laura Allen said she was pleased with public participation during the meetings.   “I feel the meetings went very well,” Allen said. “We had very good attendance, especially at the beginning during the first two. There was lots of really good discussion and it’s clear to me that the folks that came to the meeting care deeply about the town and where it’s going and they want to be a part of it. For me, that’s very exciting.” Facilitator Christine Becker estimated close to 60 people attended the first meeting.   “I think they were very productive,” ...
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Full house greets Bertino, Carozza at Pines‚Äątown hall

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) In a well-attended event at the Ocean Pines branch of the Worcester Library last Saturday, new County Commissioner A. Chip Bertino was joined by Commissioner President M. Jim Bunting, Delegate Mary Beth Carozza and County Volunteer Service Coordinator Kelly Brinkley to provide information and answer constituents’ questions. Bertino is the primary representative of Ocean Pines on the board of commissioners, but Bunting’s district includes a portion of the Pines, and Carozza serves the area at the state level. Brinkley was there at Bertino’s behest to encourage volunteerism, and implored the audience to allow her to find opportunities that fit their abilities. A cheerful attitude and persistent upbeat bearing was chased from the room, however, when Bertino revealed what the commissioners had learned only days before: the county will run out of cash reserves (known governmentally as the “stabilization fund”) in fiscal 2017. The commission...
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Shore delegation backing WCDC as new regs loom

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) Worcester County Developmental Center Executive Director Jack Ferry traveled to Annapolis last Friday to speak with the Eastern Shore Delegation about the affect pending federal regulations could have on the center’s operation.  The Newark center is fighting possible regulations that could compromise its ability and that of similar centers statewide, to assist disabled people with vocational training. The Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule relating to “Home and Community Based Services Settings for Medicaid-funded long term services” in the Federal Register on Jan. 16. The rule would bring about several changes to home and community-based waivers, finalizes regulatory changes to the state plan home and community-based services, and imposes new requirements on what is considered an appropriate home/community based residential setting. Ferry argued that the regulation replaces facility-based employment and training ...
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Magin in, Timmons moving to assist Berlin econ director

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) In a minor shakeup, Berlin introduced one new face, while moving a familiar one to the Visitor’s Center to tackle increased demands on the tourism front. Vicki Magin was introduced as the new administrative assistant during a mayor and council meeting on Monday. Sharon Timmons, who previously held the position, will join Economic and Community Development Director and Main Street Coordinator Ivy Wells, as her new assistant. Magin, who previously worked in parks and recreation in Ocean Pines, said she read about the position in the newspaper. “The position, as I understand it, is the assistant to the town administrator [Laura Allen], and I am filling some great shoes with Sharon Timmons.” Magin said her first day was “initiation by example,” with a full day of activities, followed by an evening council meeting. “It’s pretty cool coming to Berlin right now,” Magin said. “It’s a booming little town. There...
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Worcester County G.O.L.D. making rounds at meetings

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) Representatives of the Snow Hill-based nonprofit organization, Worcester County G.O.L.D., have been making the rounds in the county and were in Berlin on Monday to give an operational update to the mayor and council. Executive Director Claire Otterbein said the stop was part of a multi-town campaign that already included Snow Hill and Pocomoke, with Ocean City the next stop on the list. “We primarily do financial assistance for people in need in Worcester County,” Otterbein said. “The biggest part of what we’re doing funding-wise and time-wise is emergency financial assistance for things like preventing evictions for people, preventing utility disconnections, food in emergency situations, helping with medication costs and sometimes clothing and transportation when it’s an emergency need. We’re really focused on trying to meet the needs of needy people in Worcester County.” Otterbein said the organization is using the campaign...
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Berlin Briefs

Posted On: 2/26/15
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Feb. 26, 2015) The Berlin mayor and council discussed several issues during a public meeting at Town Hall on Monday, Feb. 23. High Heel Races return The council approved the 2015 High Heel Races, setting the date for June 5, 2015 from 5-9 p.m. Mary Henderson from Women Supporting Women presented Mayor Gee Williams with a trophy for his part in the 2014 race. “He did an awesome job,” she said. “And you do look mighty fine in those heels.” Henderson said the event helps keep the services of the nonprofit organization’s services – providing wigs and prosthetics for breast cancer patients – free Williams, Henderson and Councilmember Lisa Hall encouraged participation in the event.   Snow days Water Resources / Public Works Director Jane Kreiter said the town responded to more than 30 emergency calls for broken pipes during the recent cold snap. Kreiter said public works staff also spent three days working on snow removal i...
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